Last Friday, the 15th of March Willamette’s Center for Equity and Empowerment and Prisoner’s Poetry hosted Poetry for the People.
We started at 7:30pm to a great turnout! Surahbi and Ravella, pictured above, introduced the crowd to the Prisoner’s Poetry’s mission and the Center for Equity and Empowerment’s goals. Then the floor was opened up by our very own!
Theresa Martin performed a poem by Bao Phi, who wrote in response to Senator John McCain’s use of the word “gook” in 2000. It was an intense, passionate recitation that really spoke to social justice, self-expression, and the power of poetry. In other words, a great start to the evening
Emily Larkin then got up to perform “My Jar,” a poem she wrote on a sleepless 3am morning. Then, to encourage people to present, she talked about Muckalupagus, an octopus adventuring with his friends. It really set a warm, safe, and comfortable atmosphere that extended all along the event!
Saran Walker performed “Odalisque,” “The Accident,” and “Elegy to My Friend’s Phone, Flushed Irretrievably Down the Toilet.” With a range from a serious response to a Picasso painting to the lighthearted elegy, she helped encourage all types of people to join in on the fun! Saran also said that “it was cool to hear a lot of people who I’d never seen read before. “
Rey Goicochea performed a poem he wrote to celebrate his academic success (Graduate school acceptances all over the place!) in the face of bullying when young, titled “To My Second Grade Haters.”
Till Gwinn, who is a long time contributor to the slam poetry scene at Willamette, recited pieces that showed off his vocal prowess.
Chris Ketchum performed “I Have Said a Commonplace Thing,” a social commentary piece.
Amy Snodgrass wrote “Sender Undisclosed” and “The Rapture Comes” and read them to us. They invoked images of overrun greenery and mysteriousness.
Octaviano Chavarin, imbued with liquid courage, performed “As With Most Men” by Mark Gonzales, expounding on the subject of male stereotypes.
Sean Dart is a very tall senior who is working on his thesis, and write poetry in response to some of his research. On the subject of male stereotypes, he performed “Automatic Dispensing Hand Sanitizer.” His recitations included more humorous pieces, like “Brief” and “I Want to Write a Letter to My Therapist that Says.”
Alex Jasmund read “Warming Embrace,” dedicated to his grandmother who recently passed away. He felt it was a safe place for him to share his work, and for that we are very grateful.
Jamie Ervin is involved on the slam poetry scene at Willamette, and performed “Last Night’s Outfit” for us, which she dubbed “the slut poem.” It let her yell and had a memorable rhythm in addition to a great message.
Emma Reagan recited “Migration Patterns” and “Blood Marks,” bird themed poems that evoked intense imagery and were very rich in feeling.
Blanca Gutierrez performed an emotional work in progress, dedicated to a student she worked with over the summer who committed suicide titled “For Those Who Couldn’t Bear to Stay.”
Theresa Martin then took the time to recite her own work, which she wrote a year ago, but had only performed once before. It was a touching, striking piece on the universality of love.
Ravella Riffenburg shared part of a story she writes in her head, with princes and princesses and invisible friends.
Jameka Townsend bravely got up to read a poem called “Journey to the Unknown.”
Emma Jones read Susan Orlean’s “Brief Encounter”, a poem she wrote on the back of a receipt and found at the beginning of an evening, and “Dialogue Between Two Students who Sit Next to Each Other in Class and ‘Like Like’ Each Other but are Afraid to Admit It”. She left us laughing, and I’m sure “Vagisil” will set anyone who attended into a fit of laughter.
The event lasted until 9:00pm, and ended with everyone milling around, eating cake(it was my birthday), cookies, and having a great time!
Thank you for being a part of the family. We hope to see you at another event soon!